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The Grand Slam: Nick Swisher comes through with winning homer

David Brown
Big League Stew

Like most of the rest of the American League teams, the Cleveland Indians are hanging around in the playoff hunt. That they are, without getting much of a contribution from Nick Swisher — until Sunday afternoon, anyway — has to be encouraging.

Recently activated from the disabled list and batting just .203, Swisher unloaded against Junichi Tazawa for a tie-breaking solo home run in the 11th inning to lead Cleveland to a 3-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox. Swisher's home run also helped the Indians split a four-game series at Fenway Park and pulled his team back to a .500 record.

Swisher's home run, deep to right field and near the Pesky Pole, was his fourth of the season and second since April 13. He has averaged 27 homers per 162 games during his 11-year career.

"This year's been kind of crazy for me, personally, just to come up with a hit like that to help this team win a ballgame,'' Swisher said. ''I was so stoked, man. I wanted to smile all the way around the bases.''

Cleveland manager Terry Francona was pretty excited by the good view he had from the third base dugout of the homer just inside the right field foul pole.

"At that point it's not relief,'' he said, ''it's elation."

Swisher, 33, is signed through 2016 with a vesting option for '17. He had a strong second half and finished with respectable numbers in 2013 — but making the playoffs (even for a game) was the thing for Swisher and the Indians. They're 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers in the AL Central and 2 1/2 back in the wild card race, which basically includes everyone but the Rays.

ROYALS WIN SEVENTH STRAIGHT:

The Kansas City Royals are surging in June, having won seven straight, while the Chicago White Sox are swooning. The Royals won 6-3 to complete a three-game sweep at U.S. Cellular Field. Royals pitching limited Chicago to six runs combined in the series, and the White Sox's score in the first inning was odd, to say the least.

Adam Eaton tripled to start the bottom of the first and, after a pickoff try at third base, Royals right-hander James Shields tried again with a 1-0 count. He had Eaton dead to rights, but home-plate umpire Paul Emmel called a balk, negating the pickoff and allowing Eaton to cross home plate. As the Royals broadcast noted, pickoff plays at third base — much less balk calls — almost never happen. Royals manager Ned Yost came out to argue and got thrown out.

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The White Sox had cut an early deficit to 2-1, but Kansas City didn't allow them to pile on.

''I said something when I was walking away that made me sit in this office,'' Yost said. ''I don't think I ever got kicked out before the first out in the bottom of the first. I just felt really strongly that was a good play.''

It was Yost's third ejection. His team is 36-32. The White Sox fell to 33-37.

FATHER'S DAY, ADAMS STYLE:

Slugger Matt Adams of the St. Louis Cardinals had a nice little weekend with his father, Jamie Adams, in town to watch him play at Busch Stadium. The son hit a home run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, helping the Cards sweep the Washington Nationals with a 5-2 victory in the series finale.

Mr. Adams even said, telling Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal on Saturday, that a home run for Father's Day was all he wanted. There will not be a home run with dad in attendance for a fourth straight day, however.

''Unfortunately, he's going to go home,'' Adams said.

There were going to meet before Adams' father left for the airport.

''He might give me a big hug and start crying,'' Adams said. ''He's an emotional guy.''

Adams has come off the disabled list with a roar after healing a torn calf muscle. His return, and with it his power, is an encouraging sign for the Cards, who are last in the NL home runs. They also got one from Matt Holliday.

Manager Mike Matheny has been preaching patience regarding the team's lack of power.

''We've been saying for months now these guys have done that,'' Matheny said. ''It's not a surprise. It's not like these guys have never hit any home runs in their lives. I think that everybody just thought that we were either brainwashing them not to hit home runs or else they all lost it collectively and both of them are ridiculous."

LA STELLA'S GOT A NICE STICK:

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(AP)

(AP)

Rookie Tommy La Stella continues to be a good addition to the Atlanta Braves lineup. He had three hits, including a two-run double in a four-run sixth inning to key a 7-3 victory against the Los Angeles Angels.

La Stella is batting .411 and, the Associated Press notes, has at least two hits in nine of the 16 games he's played so far.

Braves outfielder Jason Heyward robbed Mike Trout twice of hits, taking away extra bases in the sixth after stealing a hit in the fourth:

Heyward is one of those players worth the price of admission because of his defense.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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